Liverpool - The elusive dream
Analysing the downfall of Brendan Rodgers' side in a period of 12 months.
It’s been 25 long years since Liverpool were crowned Champions of England. The FA Cup, League Cup and even the coveted Champions League has been won since then, but the Premier League remains elusive. They’ve come very close on a number of occasions, none more so than last year under Brendan Rodgers, but it’s been a case of so close but yet so far. 22 games into the new season, they currently stand at 8th in the table and while they may struggle to even make a Champions League spot, they must not lose faith.
Rewind to 29th December, 2013, when Brendan Rodger’s men suffered consecutive defeats at the hands of City and Chelsea slipping them to 5th in the table at the turn of the New Year. What came after was simply astonishing even by Liverpool’s high standards. They went 16 games unbeaten, dropping only 4 points from a possible 48 which saw them jump to 1st in the table. On the way, we saw an unstoppable Uruguayan lead the attack of a team that had truly set fire to the English top division. In the unbeaten run of games, Liverpool conceded 21 goals but scored 52 at an average of 3.25 goals/game whilst over the course of the season they scored 101 goals averaging 17.1 shots/game.
Although City won the title, not many may deny that Liverpool played the best football in the 2013-14 campaign and were unfortunate to concede the title which slipped away in the last 3 games of the season. What was fascinating was that there weren’t extravagant amounts of money spent on overhauling the squad. The former Swansea manager spent a net 16.55m pounds shipping out the likes of Carroll and Downing who never really hit the ground running at Anfield.
A lot has changed though over the last 12 months. Suarez’s departure left an obvious hole that till date needs filling and Sturridge’s prolonged stint on the sidelines has hampered Liverpool’s charge for top honours. The likes of Lovren and Sakho have struggled at the back and Mignolet looks far from a world class shot stopper. Having conceded too many at the back and with the firepower missing up front, Liverpool’s current table place is vindicated.
A lot of Liverpool’s shortcomings may come down to Rodgers’ capture of Balotelli and Lambert when the likes of Costa and Mandzukic were in the market. The flamboyant Italian has struggled in his second coming whilst the Englishman has been a fringe player and the Anfield faithful have been starved of the swashbuckling form that almost saw them through to the elusive Premier League title.
Even their 2008-09 title charge was spearheaded by a certain Fernando Torres and if they are to taste success, they need a prolific goal scorer up front. The manager’s constant chopping and changing of his side hasn’t helped their cause while he struggles to find his best playing 11. Sturridge’s return and the New Year, he will hope, should provide more joy.
Liverpool’s rise and fall from last season has been a loss to the Premier League itself. Chelsea have dominated proceedings this season while the rest are only playing catch up. Had Liverpool been the team of last season, we could’ve had a more interesting title race.While many teams undergo “footballing cycles” which comprise of their ups and downs, The Reds had it all on offer in one year.The next few months for Liverpool are critical.
Not only will they hope to finish the season on a high and try securing a Champions League spot but they will also in due course of time say goodbye to their talismanic captain, Steven Gerrard. His departure, though disheartening, paves way for a rebuilding process that should see new linchpins in the red half of Merseyside. In Sterling, Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho, they have proven talent and if Rodgers can be more astute in the transfer market and get his key ingredients right, we may see the Kop rise again.